Rick Frost ia a singer/songwriter/guitarist who resides in Guilford, CT. Over the course of the past 3 years Rick has had 14 #1 Songs on Hardcoremix.com; 5 of these songs have gone on to be multi-site Number 1's. Rick has received 6 Featured Artist Awards; 4 Featured Song Awards; and won Indie-Charts "Battle of The Bands", 2008.
So what is the music scene like in Guilford, CT ? Is it hard making a name for yourself there?
The music scene in Guilford, CT is, for all intents and purposes, non-existent. When the Puppet Theater in Stony Creek (next town over) closed - it left a huge hole in a music scene that was already bleak to begin with. All the small venues on the Shoreline have gone out of business. Friends Coffee House in Westbrook; Shoreline Coffee Roasters in Old Lyme; the list goes on forever. I was fortunate in that Joe Davis, the guy running the Stony Creek Puppet Theater called me and asked me to run the Open mic there. We started opening the Puppet House to local bands to run door deals. This gave kids a chance to play and kept oil in the Theater. I had already established myself as being somebody that was extremely accessible with regard to playing benefits. Itís something I really believe in and I had played dozens of benefits at all the Coffeehouses and some high Schools; Roaring Brook Nature Center etc. I did benefits at the P. House for AIDS Research; WPKN Public Radio; Jae Sherman and I did a few benefits to keep the Puppet House afloat. But the venue only held 130 people. It was in horrible shape structurally and the owner would use whatever portion of the door he took to live on. So, no repairs were getting done and the building was uninsured. It was a pretty dismal situation. 2008 was really the last year I used the facility. A high percentage of bars had gone to karaoke; Open Mic; any form of entertainment that relieved the owner from the burden of providing funds for entertainment. The non-smoking in bars and clubs had already hurt a lot of facilities financially. The hypocrisy of that used to kill me. Alcohol kills 48,000 people a year on the highways. Then there are the hundreds of thousands of traumatic injuries. But it was o.k. to sit and soak your liver in booze all night - just donít light a cigarette Ė its bad for your health. So all you really had in CT was a few huge clubs like Toads and the Webster and some really tiny clubs. It just wasnít conducive to a thriving music scene. I found the best venue turned out to be the streets. I started busking down in New Haven and made a lot more in tips than any of the bars were paying. CT is a very Corporate State. Virtually all of the Stateís print media is owned by one or two corporate giants. The Hartford Courant owns the Advocate Newspaper chain.. The New Haven Register owns all of the formerly independent Shoreline Newspapers. And, they are all owned by some out-of state Corporate Behemoth that has no interest in the local music scene.. The joke in CT is if you arenít playing within two blocks of the New Haven Advocate or have a relative working there Ė you wonít get print. As far as radio, WPLR, the largest station is owned by Cox Communications out of GA. Clear Channel already owns over 70% of the stations in the country. So Jesus Christ could start a Blues band in CT and he isnít going to get any air time unless it is sanctioned by one of the 4 remaining Giant Labels. Fortunately, I made a name for myself a long time ago. I canít imagine what itís like for kids just starting off. Thatís why the Indie Stations like Hardcoremix.com are critical. Without these stations original music is going to issue a death rattle. Consider this Ė My CD Something Special, over 85% of the referrals to CD Baby and other points of purchase that actually resulted in sales came from Hardcoremix.com; not corporate radio or corporate news rags disguised as local papers. It is the Net that is keeping music alive for new artists. Sites like Hardcoremix.com; reverbnation.com; Afcollective.com; The MedicineShow.com etc., etc. Without these bastions of independence weíd all be listening to elevator music that was programmed to make you want to buy lawn furniture made in Bangladesh by five year old kids getting paid a quarter a day.
You have been around in music for years. You have seen the transition from people buying CDís to people buying MP3 downloads. In your opinion, what do you think will happen to the CD format? Without a doubt the advent of the MP3 and IPodsí and such had a huge impact on CD sales. But youíll always have CDs around, or the next generation of hard copy music device Ė whatever that might be. A lot of folks want an autographed CD when they leave your show. Itís kind of hard to autograph an MP3. So, there will always be some demand. Some folks see them as an investment. A signature on a relatively unknown CD can become worth its weight in gold if the band or artist that signed it breaks big all of a sudden. Even vinyl is making a come back. You have stores primarily down South where they handle nothing but vinyl. People love the dirty scratchy sound that came to be part and parcel of a blues recording. Iíve heard a lot of folks complain that digital is just too clean. It was like castrating the music.
Have you been doing any shows? Not really. Iíve was pretty sick for awhile. So I sat most of 2009 out, but I worked at getting exposure for previously recorded stuff. I did do a few benefits, but I moved from promoting my last release to helping other artists and entertainers with their PR, while recording my next release, which was supposed to have come out over a year ago but hasnít yet.
You recently just went through a Cancer scare. How has this changed you? Iíve done a few private functions and a handful of benefits but I sat out most of 2009 because of health problems. I had cancer, severe anemia, radial nerve paralysis of my arm and a slew of little things. Luckily for me Iíve retained visibility via the songs from Something Special. Another benefit is that the forced down time has allowed me to become better acquainted w/ the Internet Ė which is critical to success for todayís Indie Artist. The Internet is the best tool at the Indie Artistís disposal. Another thing Iím finding is there is truth in the old maxim Ė ďAbsence makes the heart grow fonder.Ē My computer was down for a week and I came back to a back-log of 7,000 + e-mails. People miss seeing me live and itís a guarantee at this point that anywhere I show up it sells out Ė which is nice. Primarily itís because folks arenít sure if theyíll get another opportunity to see me again. The cancer thing was a very life altering experience. It really served to crystallize for me the idea of my own mortality. When I was younger, I never expected to live past 30. It was a lifestyle choice. Sex, drugs and rock Ďní roll. I should have died a dozen times. Motorcycle wrecks, drug overdoses, car accidents, lightening almost got me once. None of it seemed to faze me back then. People I run into who knew me in my 20ís and 30ís are shocked.. The first words I always hear are ďHoly Shit! I canít believe you are still alive.Ē Well now that Iíve past the big 50 itís a miracle. You hear cancer and it blows your mind because your concept of time has been altered. You think ďI donít have much time as it is and I have all these songs and ideas in my head I have to finish. Cancer is going to really screw things up.Ē My first reaction to the words ďyou might have cancer of the esophagusĒ was I became manically driven. I had to get music done. Something Special was written, recorded and put out there in two weeks. I have so much music left unrecorded. So cancer kicked me in the ass. I didnít mix it professionally. Forget mastering. I just wanted the stuff recorded. I was ready to go right into the next CD and my studio crashed 5 of 7 computers got the Blue Wall of Death. When my cancer miraculously disappeared I saw it for the miracle it was. Something I wouldnít have quite grasped when I was younger.
Who taught you how to play guitar? I taught myself. Actually I did have about a half-dozen lessons from Jim Shepley. He taught Duane Allman how to play. He taught me a couple of scales and said, ďBasically you know these and you can play anything.Ē So, the lesson usually consisted of me going to Jimís House on Foxon Blvd. In East Haven, CT and weíd sit on the porch practice the scale a couple times and smoke a joint. Jim probably doesnít even remember me. He was playing with the Jim Ground Band at the time and I got them a gig over at Bill Millers Sherry Shack in Branford - $15 commission. But, I split from home on and off at 12 and was really gone at 13 and that was the end of lessons. I canít read a single note and I canít tell you the name of Ĺ the chords I play. Do it all by ear.
Where do you mainly record? Almost everything Iíve recorded has been live on a multi-track recorder. I canít afford studio time, and given the technology available today and the advent of the MP3 and Internet Marketing I donít really need a studio. I mean it would be nice to work with state of the art equipment, but itís just not in the cards. But, thatís O.K. I do alright.
You seem to do well with your music and you have seen many of your songs hit charts on digital music websites. What is your strategy in promoting your music? Iíve done very well in terms of getting my name out there. There is no set strategy. I think certain things lend themselves to a song and/or an artistís success. First and foremost is originality. Too many bands sound like bands that they emulate. I think to be considered as doing well people have to be talking about who sounds like you. Unique/Original really standout and translate into CREATIVE.. Another real plus, or so Iím told, is that I sing about issues. I sing about real life. I wonít be intimidated by anyone. Iíve never been afraid to speak my mind or sing about my experiences, be they right or wrong.
What do you listen to in your private life? I listen to Indie Music. I refuse to listen to the slick canned shit you get on corporate radio. There are way too many good Indie Artists to listen to. Hardcoremix.com is a prime example of what I mean. Folks familiar with HC Mix are always commenting on the fact that the play list is varied; new talent; different genres. Itís a wonderful thing man because you are airing the real talent. Whereas, with Corporate radio you get the best music money can create. There are great artists on hardcoremix.com; on reverbnation.com; the AFCollective; The Medicine Show; The European Hub; Hot 106 etc. So I stick solely to net radio for my personal enjoyment.
Where do you feel most artists go wrong these days where they never make it as a musician?
Well, I promoted a lot of shows at the Puppet House Theater and the biggest mistake I see bands making is the same one it has always been. They start acting like rock stars before theyíve earned it. They burn out before they get off the ground. Another killer is ego. A band gets a small taste of success and they start looking at their fans as if they are on some lower level in the hierarchy. That is just so wrong. You are only as great as your fans want and allow you to be. Start dissing your fans and youíre going down.
Do you play any other instruments? Not well enough to talk about.
Tell us about the "15 Souls In My Pocket" CD. 15 Souls In My Pocket has been written for over a year now. I just havenít been able to record it. It was originally going to be a double CD Ė a contrast piece. The darker and lighter side of existence. A kind of dualistic examination. A lot of songs dealing w/metaphysics; politics; other realms, both physical and psychological. I think out of necessity it is now back to a single disc. Iím reconsidering the content on a daily basis. Do I go completely dark or do I air it up. The delays have been so considerable. My studio going down and I lost all the original demo recordings. Five computers out of seven destroyed by virus. Then the health delay. So, Iím already a year late. So, I donít know what context the CD is going to be released under? Will I go w/ the darker stuff? The Lighter side of dark? I donít know. I just know if Iím going to get it out soon the compare and contrast mode has to be scrapped.
What is the best venue to play at in your area? I found the best venue turned out to be the streets. I started busking down in New Haven and other Shoreline Towns and I make better money than I could make at any of the CT venues. With regard to a larger show Ė rent a hall and promote it yourself. You will wind up making out infinitely better than you would working with any of the CT Clubs. There is a possibility for someone with start up capital. Rent Halls all across the U.S. and promote your own National Indie Tours. I think you might make out O.K.
What are you working on for 2010? Iím looking at 2010 as the best year in music that I will ever have. The cancer is gone; my arm is working again. I have some working computers and Iím rebuilding my ability to get stuff done. I have over 200 songs. The biggest delay right now is I canít seem to stop writing long enough to rerecord the original project. This will be the year that I release more music than I ever have or probably ever will Ė with the exception of 2011 and maybe 2012; and possibly 2013 if everything doesnít go poof in 2012.
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